You would think the TCU men’s basketball team had its fill of the state of Kansas after getting hammered by 30 points at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. But the Horned Frogs (9-15, 0-12) are back in Kansas for a second try on Wednesday and a date at Kansas State.
Kansas State’s has a very big game this week at Oklahoma on Saturday, but they need to be careful not to look beyond TCU and take the Horned Frogs too lightly on Wednesday night. All you need to do is go back to the first 20 minutes of TCU’s games at Kansas last Saturday to realize that the Horned Frogs are not as bad a team as their record might indicate.
TCU went toe to toe with mighty Kansas for the first 20 minutes last Saturday. The Horned Frogs were down 47-40 at the half, but the difference was just three or four points for most of the opening half, and at one of the most difficult places to play in all of college basketball. TCU may be just 9-15 on the season and winless in the Big 12; the Frogs just happen to be in the country’s best basketball conference.
There is a very good reason the Big 12 posted the best record of any conference this season over the nonconference portion of the schedule. The teams in the Big 12 are very, very good. In how many leagues has the second-place team (Texas) already lost four conference games, or has an eighth-place team (Texas Tech) that has beaten two rankied teams this season and almost added a top-10 team to that liut Tuesday night)?
Wednesday night’s game at K-State’s Octagon of Doom is only the ninth meeting all-time between these two schools. Kansas State leads the series 6-2 and took the first game this season, winning by 18 at TCU in January. TCU has not had much luck on the road this season, winning just three of nine away from home, and that statistic is magnified by the fact that K-State is 13-1 at home this season and undefeated at Bramlage Coliseum this year against Big 12 opponents.
TCU and K-State are the two lowest scoring teams in the Big, both averaging under 70 points a game. The major difference is, Kansas State leads the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to 63.6 ppg, one point less than the Horned Frogs’ season-long scoring average as a team. The Wildcats have held 12 opponents this season to under 60 points.
The Horned Froigs have been playing short-handed a good part of the season. Only four TCU players have played in all 24 games. The Horned Frogs are led on the offensive end by junior Kyan Anderson, who averages 16 points a game, but scored 29 and 25 in his last two games, against Baylor and Kansas. Four other Horned Frogs average better than eight points a game.
Kansas State has spread around the offense all season, with seven different players leading the team in game scoring. The hottest of the Wildcats from the floor has been freshman guard Marcus Foster, who is averaging 15.1 points a game. Thomas Gipson has added 11.6 per game.
Three Things To Watch For In This Game
- Kansas State is a good rebounding team. The Cats score a lot of buckets off of second-chance offensive rebounds. TCU does not rebound well. The Frogs are last in the league with minus-eight rebounding margin.
- If the game is close down the stretch, free-throw shooting could become a big factor. TCU has hit 31 of 34 free thows in the month of February and is the Big 12’s third=best team from the charity stripe this season. Kansas State is the worst free-throw-shooting team in the conference, shooting just 64 percent from the line.
- This season, when TCU has led at any time with under five minutes to go in the game, the Horned Frogs have gone on to win. In its 15 losses, TCU has never led with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
My pick: Kansas State 68, TCU 59 – These are two low-scoring teams that like to play at a deliberate pace. The game will be played in the 60s, with the Wildcats handing TCU its 13th conference loss in 2013-14 and moving into a three-way tie for third place in the Big 12 with Oklahoma and Iowa State, each with identical 8-5 records in league play. K-State will have a chance to break that tie when the Cats travel to Norman on Saturday.